With its 86 billion neurons, communicating with each other through about 150 trillion connections the brain is the most complex organ we know. Up until today its diverse functions are far from being understood.
The malfunctions of the brain do already cause about one third of the health care costs in the developed world – a proportion that will only grow in the future. To address this problem it is essential to further explore the functioning of the brain.
The Potential of Neurotechnology
Neurotechnological devices such as electrodes or comprehensive systems for recording and stimulation enable interactions with the brain and the nervous system. In this way neurotechnology helps to gain deeper insights into their functioning and to explore potential therapeutic applications.
The Current State of Research and Technology
Recent research employing – amongst other technologies – the high-resolution °AirRay Grid Electrodes has already shown that the functional organization of the cerebral cortex is much more finely structured than findings based on previous technologies had suggested (Wang et al., 2017; Gierthmuehlen et al., 2014). Knowledge about what brain areas are involved in which body functions is for instance essential for planning surgical procedures on the brain.
Promising results have been provided by the young research field of bioelectronic medicine (link to application Bioelectronic Medicine). In this approach researchers attempt to treat diseases as close as possible to the point of origin by directly interacting with individual nerves with the aid of nerve cuff electrodes like °AirRay Cuff Electrodes.
Closed-loop interactions with the brain have already been tested successfully using for example the CorTec Brain Interchange system (Kohler et al., 2017). Studies based on other technologies have also shown that closed-loop interactions can alter the interconnections of the brain (e.g., Zanos et al., 2018). This can for instance be exploited for restoring body functions after damage to the nervous system (e.g., Ganzer et al., 2018).
Solutions supported by CorTec Technology
CorTec’s °AirRay Grid Electrodes offer novel options for recording and stimulating electrical activity of larger parts of the brain without invading the sensitive brain tissue. The electrode contacts are placed on the surface of the brain tissue and enable communication with the underlying local groups of nerve cells.
The product variant of °AirRay Micro Cuff Electrodes is specially designed to enclose nerves without applying mechanical pressure to them. The electrodes can be used for recording, stimulating as well as for blocking nerves, and thus extend research options to gentle interactions with the peripheral nervous system. At the same time this technology opens up new possibilities for therapeutic applications in the field of bioelectronic medicine.
CorTec’s °AirRay Electrode technology allows manufacturing electrodes with a high density of contacts and in individualized and miniaturized arrangements. This enables investigating neuronal functions in a much more accurate way than with previous electrodes.
Combining the °AirRay Electrodes with the Brain Interchange system offers new possibilities to explore brain-computer interfaces for future clinical applications, e.g. as assistive systems for paralyzed people.
Furthermore, the system can be used to investigate and develop long-term closed-loop interactions with the nervous system: The technology is capable of reacting to the individual physiological condition of the patient adapting its activities to this at any time. These features can be beneficial for a variety of therapies such as for Parkinson’s disease or for epilepsy intervention.
General Background Literature
Miniature electroparticle-cuff for wireless peripheral neuromodulation
Hernandez-Reynoso, Ana G. et al.; J. Neural Eng. 2019 16 046002
Identification of hypoglycemia-specific neural signals by decoding murine vagus nerve activity
Masi, Emiliy Battinelli et al.; Bioelectronic Medicine (2019) 5:9
Bioelectronic modulation of carotid sinus nerve activity in the rat: a potential therapeutic approach for type 2 diabetes
Sacramento, J.F., Chew, D.J., Melo, B.F. et al.; Diabetologia (2018) 61: 700. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-017-4533-7
Mapping the fine structure of cortical activity with different micro-ECoG electrode array geometries.
Wang X, Gkogkidis A, Iljina O, Fiederer L, Henle C, Mader I, Kaminsky J, Stieglitz T, Gierthmuehlen M, Ball T.
J Neural Eng. 2017 Jun 9. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/aa785e. [Epub ahead of print]
Mapping of sheep sensory cortex with a novel microelectrocorticography grid.
Gierthmuehlen M, Wang X, Gkogkidis A, Henle C, Fischer J, Fehrenbacher T, Kohler F, Raab M, Mader I, Kuehn C, Foerster K, Haberstroh J, Freiman TM, Stieglitz T, Rickert J, Schuettler M, Ball T.
J Comp Neurol. 2014 Nov 1;522(16):3590-608. doi: 10.1002/cne.23631. Epub 2014 Jun 16.
Evaluation of μECoG electrode arrays in the minipig: experimental procedure and neurosurgical approach.
Gierthmuehlen M, Ball T, Henle C, Wang X, Rickert J, Raab M, Freiman T, Stieglitz T, Kaminsky J.
J Neurosci Methods. 2011 Oct 30;202(1):77-86. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2011.08.021. Epub 2011 Aug 30.
First long term in vivo study on subdurally implanted micro-ECoG electrodes, manufactured with a novel laser technology.
Henle C, Raab M, Cordeiro JG, Doostkam S, Schulze-Bonhage A, Stieglitz T, Rickert J.
Biomed Microdevices. 2011 Feb;13(1):59-68. doi: 10.1007/s10544-010-9471-9.
Closed-loop interaction with the cerebral cortex: a review of wireless implant technology
Fabian Kohler, C. Alexis Gkogkidis, Christian Bentler, Xi Wang, Mortimer Gierthmuehlen , Joerg Fischer, Christian Stolle, Leonhard M. Reindl, Joern Rickert, Thomas Stieglitz, Tonio Ball & Martin Schuettler (2017); Brain-Computer Interfaces, 4:3, 146-154, DOI:10.1080/2326263X.2017.1338011
Phase-Locked Stimulation during Cortical Beta Oscillations Produces Bidirectional Synaptic Plasticity in Awake Monkeys.
Zanos S, Rembado I, Chen D, Fetz EE; Curr Biol. 2018 Aug 3. pii: S0960-9822(18)30908-4. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.07.009. [Epub ahead of print]
Closed-loop interaction with the cerebral cortex using a novel micro-ECoG-based implant: the impact of beta vs. gamma stimulation frequencies on cortico-cortical spectral responses.
Gkogkidis, Alexis C, et al.; Brain-Computer Interfaces (2017), 4:4, 214-224
First long term in vivo study on subdurally implanted Micro-ECoG electrodes, manufactured with a novel laser technology
Henle C, Raab M, Doostkam S, Cordeiro J, Schulze-Bonhage A, Stieglitz T, Rickert J (2010)
Biomedical Microdevices (in press) DOI: 10.1007/s10544-010-9471-9
Closed-loop neuromodulation restores network connectivity and motor control after spinal cord injury.
Ganzer PD, Darrow MJ, Meyers EC, Solorzano BR, Ruiz AD, Robertson NM, Adcock KS, James JT, Jeong HS, Becker AM, Goldberg MP, Pruitt DT, Hays SA, Kilgard MP, Rennaker RL 2nd.Elife. 2018 Mar 13;7. pii: e32058. doi: 10.7554/eLife.32058.